Viacom allows YouTube to conceal user names in court case

Google will be allowed to conceal the identities of YouTube users in a logging database that a court ordered it to hand over to Viacom

Google may conceal YouTube users' identities when it hands a database of their viewing habits to Viacom International in response to a court order, the companies agreed Monday.

Although Google must still disclose a database logging which videos were viewed and when, it may conceal the User ID, IP (Internet Protocol) Address and Visitor ID fields showing who watched them and where from. Instead, it will replacing them with unique values preserving the relationship between them but protecting users' anonymity, according to papers filed Monday with the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York.

Viacom filed suit against the search engine company and its video-sharing subsidiary in 2007, accusing them of illegally distributing its copyright content. In the discovery phase of the case, it requested information from YouTube's user database. Viacom hopes the data will show its copyright content is of more interest to YouTube's users than video created by the users themselves.

Online privacy campaigners were appalled at the judge's order to disclose the data. Among them, the Electronic Frontier Foundation warned that it "threatens to expose deeply private information about what videos are watched by YouTube users."

Monday's agreement will go some way to allaying those fears, although much will depend on the system Google uses to choose the values with which it replaces YouTube User IDs in the disclosed database.

When researchers at AOL published logs of the online searches conducted by some of the company's users in August 2006, some of those users were quickly identified despite the researchers' replacement of user names with unique, anonymous codes. AOL promised to beef up its privacy policy after that incident, which resulted in the firing of two researchers and the resignation of the company's chief technology officer.

As part of Monday's agreement, Viacom said it will "not engage in any efforts to circumvent the encryption" used to conceal the IP addresses and YouTube User IDs in the logging database.

Keep up with the latest tech news, reviews and previews by subscribing to the Good Gear Guide newsletter.

Peter Sayer

IDG News Service

Comments

Comments are now closed.

Most Popular Reviews

Follow Us

Best Deals on GoodGearGuide

Shopping.com

Latest News Articles

Resources

GGG Evaluation Team

Kathy Cassidy

STYLISTIC Q702

First impression on unpacking the Q702 test unit was the solid feel and clean, minimalist styling.

Anthony Grifoni

STYLISTIC Q572

For work use, Microsoft Word and Excel programs pre-installed on the device are adequate for preparing short documents.

Steph Mundell

LIFEBOOK UH574

The Fujitsu LifeBook UH574 allowed for great mobility without being obnoxiously heavy or clunky. Its twelve hours of battery life did not disappoint.

Andrew Mitsi

STYLISTIC Q702

The screen was particularly good. It is bright and visible from most angles, however heat is an issue, particularly around the Windows button on the front, and on the back where the battery housing is located.

Simon Harriott

STYLISTIC Q702

My first impression after unboxing the Q702 is that it is a nice looking unit. Styling is somewhat minimalist but very effective. The tablet part, once detached, has a nice weight, and no buttons or switches are located in awkward or intrusive positions.

Latest Jobs

Shopping.com

Don’t have an account? Sign up here

Don't have an account? Sign up now

Forgot password?